MYTH 1 The noise climate has improved.
FACT >> Aircraft noise is measured in a way that is misleading. It gives too much weight to the noise of individual aircraft (which has fallen) and not enough to the number of planes (which has doubled over the last 30 years). One Concorde followed by 3 hours and 58 minutes of relief is said to be as disturbing as 4 hour’s worth of non-stop noise from Boeing 757s at a rate of one every two minutes. Clearly not a reflection of reality!
MYTH 2 Noise is just a problem for places like West London, Staines and Windsor.
FACT >> Not any more! In the mid-1990s, in order to cater for the increased number of planes using the airport, the point at which aircraft joined their final approach was moved further out so that whole swathes of London and the Home Counties experienced serious aircraft noise for the first time.
MYTH 3 London City Airport is too small to have any real impact.
FACT >> When it opened 25 years ago, using quieter planes, that may have been true. Things are now dramatically different. More planes, most of them noisy jets, have changed the picture. Add in the fact that many parts of East and SE London are now also overflown by Heathrow aircraft and a serious problem has emerged.
MYTH 4 Climate change need not be an obstacle to expansion.
FACT >> It is probably true that one new runway could be built at Heathrow without the target set by the Government’s climate change advisers being breached but it would mean growth would need to be curbed at all the UK’s other airports. The advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, estimate that the number of flights in the UK should grow by no more than 55% by 2050 if the Government is to meet its overall targets to reduce CO2 emissions. That roughly equates to one new runway.
MYTH 5 Cleaner planes will sort out air pollution.
FACT >> Air Pollution from aircraft tends just to be a real problem close to the airport. At Heathrow there are places where air pollution levels are above the EU legal limits set out in the 2010 Air Pollution Directive. It is true that much of the air pollution is from the traffic on the nearby roads. However, it is a big leap of faith for Heathrow to claim that, because of cleaner planes and cars, air pollution levels will fall by the time any third runway is built – flight numbers will have increased from nearly 480,000 a year to at least 760,000.
MYTH 6 A third runway is essential for the London economy.
FACT >> There are no hard facts to support this. The evidence shows business people and tourists will continue to flock to London even if a new runway is not built.
MYTH 7 Heathrow is falling behind other European airports.
FACT >> It is comparing apples and pears to contrast Heathrow with Frankfurt, Paris. Amsterdam and Madrid. When the real comparison is made – looking at the capacity of all the airports in each city – London remains the best connected city in the world. Paris, our nearest European competitor, is in 5th place.
MYTH 8 Heathrow is full.
FACT >> Its runways operate at 99% capacity but its terminals can handle another 20 million passengers a year. HACAN argues that the future should be larger, fuller, long-distance planes gradually replacing many of the short-distance planes; currently over 20% of flights are to/from domestic or near Europe destinations.
MYTH 9 Only in Britain are people protesting against airport expansion.
FACT >> The last few years have seen major protests in Germany, France and elsewhere in Europe. In 2012 new runways were stopped as a result of public protest in Munich and in Siena and Viterbo in Italy. In Frankfurt up to 5,000 have occupied the terminal every Monday for two years in protest against the impact of the fourth runway.
MYTH 10 A third runway can’t be stopped.
FACT >> We did it last time! Read the inspiring story here.